As the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, prepares to deliver his budget today (24 March), he has been urged to lay “the foundations of a green future” by the campaigning group Friends of the Earth.
They say that the measures they propose will make it cheaper and easier for people to save energy, boost green jobs and industries, increase energy security and help to reduce climate-changing emissions.
Friends of the Earth’s proposals include a cut in VAT on energy efficiency measures and Stamp Duty rebates for new householders who make significant green improvements shortly after buying their new home. They insist that this will help households to “slash fuel bills and save energy”.
They also propose the establishment of a Green Bank to provide direct investment and loans for energy-saving schemes and renewable energy projects such as offshore wind developments.
In addition, the group wants the Chancellor to expand interest-free loans for hospitals, schools and businesses, to allow them to invest in energy-saving projects. They say that this will “save money and cut carbon - and the treasury gets its money back”.
Along with a wide range of other NGOs, charities, faith groups and trades unions, Friends of the Earth backs the introduction of a Robin Hood Tax - a 0.05 per cent tax on currency speculation. Friends of the Earth suggest that even if introduced on sterling only, this would raise £3 billion for tackling poverty and climate change.
"The development of a greener economy will create a stronger, cleaner and safer future for us all,” said Andy Atkins, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, “Alistair Darling must lay the foundations for this in the budget”.
He added, "By investing in clean technology and slashing energy waste the Chancellor can create thousands of new green jobs and business opportunities, reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and make the UK a world leader in tackling climate change”.